Car factories are a bit of a miracle. They make a complex, expensive device, and they do it close to perfectly. People love their cars, and regularly buy new ones long before they need to. It’s a largely solved engineering problem.
On the other hand, car dealerships are a disaster. No one likes them. They’re scammy, stressful and unpredictable.
The difference comes down to management vs. leadership.
Car factories are measured and managed. For a hundred years, stopwatches and spreadsheets have turned the process of making a car into a predictable, improvable system. Management is an act of authority and compliance, and in the controlled setting of a factory, it works.
Car dealers might try to measure the easy metrics of output (how many sold) but they’ve consistently failed at managing the improvised human interactions that car salespeople engage in. It turns out that the few great car dealers are great because of leadership, not management. Leadership is engaged with voluntarily, an enrolled engagement around meaning and manners, not process and motion.
Most of us don’t work in a factory. Most of us aren’t trying to solve an engineering problem. On our best days, we are leaders, or we are led by humans worthy of our best selves.
Leadership is difficult work, as far from a solvable engineering problem as we’ll encounter. It’s easier, though, if we realize that that’s what we’re doing.
When you run your dealership like a factory, you’re not going to succeed, nor are you going to please your staff. This is what creates senseless and humanity-starved bureaucracies.
Hire the right people, walk away from those that aren’t on the journey.
Celebrate the right contributions.
Develop a culture, a language, a way of being on the path.
Commit to the journey.
People like us do things like this.
Raise the standards, repeat the process.